A gift for writers

To begin, an update from my goals after Newcastle Writers Festival. My updates from my last post are in bold black, my updates today are in bold teale:

  • Join a writers group. Not there yet.
  • Write and submit an entry for Grieve Writing Competition. Done! A very personal one. Will post here eventually regardless of outcome 🙂
  • Write a short story “The Lawyer’s Wallet”. Not done yet.
  • Complete Camp NaNoWriMo for April. Have so far committed to 50,000 words, but may revise to 40,000. Happening now! Revised to 20,000 words due to chaos in my personal life and a desire to be realistic. Very much okay with that choice. The motivation is strong and I’m making progress! Done. I got nowhere near my revised target of 20,000, instead completing about 2800. I’m still super excited and proud of myself. My life was CHAOS that month, including moving house amid a massive storm that shut down my home city for days, and yet I am still finally, finally making progress 😀
  • Start participating in ABC Open’s 500 Words writing challenge. In progress, I have drafted and am sitting on an entry for the latest topic of “Grandparents”. Plan to revise and submit by Thursday. Done! So pleased to take this little step!
  • Look into, and potentially start participating in, Friday Fictioneers. Not done yet

I must report that I was quite sad to not be at Sydney Writers Festival a couple of weeks ago. I simply couldn’t afford to be there, either financially or in regards to time and energy. I moved home, had ALOT of car expenses and wore myself into the ground in my day job. Sad, but ok with it. There is always next year!

What I really want to post about today is a gift I put together for a fellow writer friend. I decided, given our similarly busy lives, that we both needed a Writer’s Emergency Kit. And that’s right, I loved the gift so much I made myself one too!

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I picked up this awesome little first aid box from Kmart for $12. Perfect emergency kit container. Reminds me a bit of a med pack in a zombie game.

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Open view

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This insert lifts out. I included a basic notebook and some good pens in here.

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This is the inside, with all the bits I included and plenty of room to add more.

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The full contents!

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Rory’s Story Cubes. These were actually part of a gift I received a while from the person I made this gift for, so her box didn’t include these.

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The dice are covered in random little symbols for story ideas, writers block activities and for games with friends. I love them!

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This was the first thing I found when Googling ideas for a writer kit. These cards originated off a Kickstarter campaign and are excellent for getting unstuck with your writing.

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You draw randomly from the deck for the card on the left. The card on the right is a more detailed partner card you can refer to if you need further inspiration on the drawn card.

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Reverse sides

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Here is the main instruction card. The reverse, and a second card, reveal more ideas for things you can do with the cards.

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The other bits and pieces: a stress ball, post its, a timer for 20 minute writing bursts and a USB stick with a printable writer’s journal PDF I found on Etsy!

My friend really liked the gift and so did I, since I made one for myself too! I also printed a Novel Writing Handbook I found on Etsy and gave it to her in a folder, as well as on the stick. I’ve already added other bits and pieces to my own kit from my existing stash and I think this will be very handy for all future writing sessions.

Links to where to buy:

First aid box

Writer Emergency Pack cards

Rory’s Story Cubes

Novel Writing Handbook

Primed

I’m sitting here with a glass of fruity red wine. I’ve discovered I stop worrying about other things and start writing when I have a little wine. My chronic headaches and migraines will prevent me from becoming an alcoholic writer so I can enjoy the energy without fear…at least in theory.

A lot is happening at the moment. Not really in the writerly sense but certainly in the rest of my life. My boyfriend an I are looking to move into a larger home. We rent and its a stressful, drawn out process. With any luck though, we will live by the lake or the sea 🙂 I am applying for other jobs, but also making an effort to up my quality of work in my current job. If I cannot move on I would like leverage to ask for a tiny promotion at my 2 year anniversary. I made a decision to stop indoor climbing for a while. My routine was becoming far too busy and my climbing partner was also unable to commit. It was just becoming too much. I also have a couple of important sewing projects coming up, and my volunteer work will start up again soon.

And then there is writing. I feel on the verge of this thing becoming more meaningful. I feel ready to write alot of fiction, and to commit to writing. I currently have an ideal writing space to do good work in and have slightly more time to do it (if you ignore all the running around to tenancy inspections that is). I know my story and I want to write it. I have a good feeling about it. I feel like it just works. I also know that I want, and need, to look at writing in the other aspects of my life. One of the jobs I am applying for involves alot of writing and that would make me a very happy camper 🙂

I also narrowed down my desired literary journal and writer’s magazine subscription list to as follows:

Any thoughts on them? I have a current hard version of The Writer and a PDF of Writer’s Digest. I have none of Writers’ Forum and I have a 2006 copy of Voiceworks. I only just discovered Kill Your Darlings online. Its relatively new and looks great. Unfortunately none of the Writer mags are Australian but both the literary ones are.

More importantly, who would like to fund my subscription hopes? 😛

The Declaration – I AM A WRITER!

So it’s day one of 15 Habits of Great Writers, and already I am being made to think very hard about my perceptions of myself.

Today Jeff is asking me to declare I am a writer.

The difficulty I am having with this speaks volumes. I work full time in Industrial Relations a career that involves advising and problem solving, rarely writing. I want to write a novel but I am struggling to find the time…I haven’t even wrote so much as a short story in a long time. This blog is called ‘Apparently a writer’ for a good reason, it is a title I chose to nudge me every time I read it, to give me the mental push of “Dani, you can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t write…get writing!”. For many people, the problem is that they don’t consider themselves writers if they are not published. I am not so hard nosed about it but I struggle to consider myself a writer when I don’t write much at all, whether it be for profit or for leisure. But sometimes we have to remember that being a writer is not always about physically sitting down and writing. Life gets in the way. But I AM A WRITER. I always have been. There are things that prove this to me every day and I have to start seeing them for what they are. I have got to stop calling myself a ‘wannabe writer’. I AM a writer, who is a wannabe novelist! 🙂

Evidence that I am a writer, which I need to remember:

  • My whole life I have caught myself narrating the scenes around me, the day as it ticks along, in my head. I picked up on this when I lived in Sydney and commuted by train for 45 minutes each way to work. I wasn’t just observing the chaos of city rail, I was describing it in narrative form in my head, detailing the actions and idiosyncrasies of other passengers, the mood of the day, and the weather, sounds and smells I was experiencing. It was no wonder I would often shut my eyes and blast my headphones and take a nap. I was exhausting myself!
  • I recently started a sewing blog, and this blog, and returned to my old blog, and I love them. Blogging is writing after all!
  •  In a previous job in HR and OHS, I managed to work my way into a communications role that I loved, writing a newsletter read by several thousand employees, releasing staff alerts, and writing intranet pages from scratch. I loved the work and was told I was very good at it. I was very much under qualified for the job and only got in through persistence and proving my ability to write.
  • Even in my current job I have discovered I achieve far better outcomes by writing emails than by calling, people understand me better and often comment about how well things are written. It is not that I communicate terribly when speaking, more so that I communicate so well when writing. A bonus when in my line of work email is usually a hindrance.

I think when it comes to declaring oneself a writer, a big block is the idea that it means “professional writer”: either a published author or a person who has decided to live on the poverty line for a while to see if they can be a published author. I am neither of these things, and I never get time to creatively write, which is what I want. But that is ok. That is not the only way to be a writer.

I am a writer by nature and in my heart.

THAT, I declare. 

Stephen King as a starting point

For a wannabe novelist I have very little reading experience. Don’t get me wrong, I was a bookworm child, but from what I remember most of it was hardly anything good. I have little experience with the classics and even less experience with modern adult fiction. As an adult, after 4 years of uni where I could not pick up a fiction book because I was drowning in textbooks, I am finally reading again.

My boyfriend gave me a Kindle for Christmas last year and this week I downloaded the main works of Stephen King. I have never read any of King’s work, though I revere several films inspired by his stories. I decided to start small and have today began reading the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden. The story has been made into a movie starring Johnny Depp and I quite liked it. I understand the endings are different and it was actually on TV the other night so I was drawn to read it quite strongly.

Lunch break today I sat down to read and I am already really excited. These books, King’s style, is exactly what I need to inspire my to write. He is an excellent writer, and as so happens Secret Window, Secret Garden is a story which actually has a writer as the protagonist. Such stories always remind me of the joy I find in writing and I think this will inspire me even further.

On that point also, don’t you think it takes a very skilled writer to develop a character that is also a writer? I have read books before where the protagonist is very studious, very intelligent, loves writing and reading, loves the library. They may also be a young journalist, or perhaps a teen with aspirations to be a writer, in which case they will get a lucky break of the sort writers dream of. They will prove themselves.  It all comes across as very safe, very easy writing. The author is only really narrating themselves, or the character they want to believe they are. Or perhaps in the books I have read, often targeted to teens, they are written to sell books to the largest audience: young wannabe writers and intellectuals who like to read about the ‘self’ that they hope to achieve.

Stephen King, I think, avoids this. In this book he depicts a writer who is flawed and depressed, possibly a little unbalanced, yet also inherently normal. It does not feel self indulgent and easy. It feels like King is writing to depict the struggle within the writer, and the fine lines any real writer will tread. It is not a dreamy journey to a perfect writing career, nor is it a narration of how intelligent people like to think they behave.

I quite like it, I am enjoying it, and think I am doing myself alot of good by reading again. I am well aware that a person can only become a good writer by reading bucket loads of prose by already good writers.